Your browser does not support JavaScript!



[2019/01/29] Chewing Dysphagia May Lead to Aspiration Pneumonia – The School of Dentistry Outlines a Self-Examination Process

The School of Dentistry held a press conference in October, 2018 on the topic of “Chewing dysphagia assessment training and advocating a program”. This program hopes to prevent oral related pneumonia.


Since 2016, pneumonia has been ranked 3rd among the top ten causes of death. Mortality due to pneumonia has continued to rise, with most of the deceased being over the age of 65 years. In addition to infectious pneumonia, National Yang-Ming University School of Dentistry had identified that more and more aged seniors have poor dental hygiene. This can cause bacteria to be ingested with food or cause vomit to be inhaled, with it becoming stuck in the lungs. All of the above can lead to aspiration pneumonia.


School of Dentistry discovered that difficulty in swallowing may be an important factor in causing aspiration pneumonia.


School of Dentistry Dean Hsu remarked that, in the past, many associated the development of pneumonia with droplet infection. However, in recent years, as Taiwan has become an aging society, the relationship between difficulty in swallowing and aspiration pneumonia has become a topic of note. He explained that aspiration pneumonia is caused by poor dental hygiene and/or degeneration of swallowing muscles. These changes result in an increased inhalation of bacteria and pathogens via food and vomit from our oral cavity into the lungs. The most common case is when an aged citizen has delayed cleaning their dentures, which results in the bacteria on the dentures entering the lungs when the person coughs; this then can lead to aspiration pneumonia.


According to the National Health Service, around 12.8% of the elderly have been shown to have swallowing abnormalities, that is, one out of every 10 aged citizens may have mild dysphagia. As this count increases as a result of an aging society, more and more people are becoming at risk of aspiration pneumonia. Therefore, National Yang-Ming University School of Dentistry devised a self-examination and assessment procedure, together with “oral health exercises”, that will allow citizens to assess themselves at home. If they have any problems they can then seek help from a dentist to prevent any possibility of oral related pneumonia.


Dean Hsu remarked that this easy assessment consisted of the following. Pose the question to oneself: when eating, do I often feel that there is food residue stuck in the throat and do I often find myself drooling? Furthermore, you can test yourself by repeatedly swallowing saliva (see picture below) in a normal sitting position. This is done by gently place your index finger on your hyoid bone and your middle finger on your larynx. Next, for 30 seconds, continuously perform swallowing actions. If during this examination, the larynx crosses the middle finger less than 3 times, this indicates the presence of dysphagia.


The chewing dysphagia self-examination